'Pink Slime' Lawsuit: ABC Sued by Beef Industry for $1.2 Billion

By Andrew Lu on September 13, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The makers of "pink slime" have sued ABC and the scientist who dubbed the beef product as pink slime for defamation.

Beef Products Inc. brought the lawsuit against ABC and the beef company is seeking $1.2 billion in damages. The South Dakota meat processor accuses ABC of misleading its viewers into believing that their product was unsafe, reports Reuters.

The company claims that ABC falsely told its viewers that its beef product was not safe, not healthy, and not even meat. As a result, Beef Products says that it lost much of its business and hundreds of millions of dollars in profit, reports Reuters.

The beef product dubbed "pink slime" is basically lean finely textured beef, a filler made from fatty trimmings, that are sprayed with ammonia to kill bacteria, reports Reuters. Beef Products is not the only producer of the textured beef, but they are the largest producer.

Beef Products says that ABC engaged in a "sustained and vicious disinformation campaign" against its product. Its lawyer said that "to call a food product slime is the most pejorative term that could be imagined," reports Reuters. Adding that ABC's "constant repetition of it, night after night after night, had a huge impact on the consuming public." Individual newscasters including Diane Sawyer and Jim Avila were also named in the lawsuit.

To win its lawsuit, Beef Products will have an uphill battle. The media is given a lot of leeway in reporting matters of public concern (like possibly unsafe meat), and the beef company will have to show that ABC acted with actual malice in producing its reports, reports Reuters.

Beef Products will have to show not only that the information ABC was reporting was false, but also that ABC knew what it was broadcasting was false, or had very strong reasons to know, and ignored them.

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